Who Am I – A Facebook Game, Part 1

UPDATE Part 2 in now published!
UPDATE Part 3 in now published!

Who Am I is a simple Facebook game built with Python and Flask.

In this and following posts I will introduce the game and develop it step by step. I will use the following stuff to develop the game:

  • Python (you need basic skill in Python)
  • Flask – a web framework for Python
  • HTML + CSS + Javascript – and the ubiquitous jQuery library
  • Facebook APIs – GraphAPI mostly

You probably need some experience in programming and web applications in order to follow along. If you ever programmed using a web framework (in any language) you will have easier time understanding the concepts.

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Why Learn Python? Because It’s FUN!

After leaving my job in a big american corporate, I spent some time thinking about how I want my next job to look like.
Browsing job description I came to a conclusion that I must learn a scripting language in order to find a job I like. Seems like most consumer web apps are written using some kind of scripting language. More structured languages like Java are used mainly in corporates (they are calling it Enterprise Java for a reason).
OK, so which scripting language to learn?
I looked for:

  1. A language that would help me find a job I like – it should be used in companies I find interesting
  2. A language that makes it easy to write consumer web applications – Java, for example, does not make it easy to write web applications. It is very good for writing code that interacts with other code but it’s verbosity makes it very hard to write code that interacts with humans
  3. It should be fun to use the language and it should have decent tools and libraries – IDE, web frameworks, etc.

Three very popular scripting languages are – Ruby, PHP and Python.
Javascript is another popular language and with the advent of node.js it can also be used for server side programming. But we’ll not look at Javascript since you must know javascript if you’re planning on doing any web programming anyway.
Ruby is very popular due to Ruby on Rails.
PHP is also very popular. A lot of very popular open source content management systems are written in PHP. Two very known examples are WordPress and Drupal. Facebook also uses PHP extensively.
Python is a little less popular for web applications. But I chose Python. Why? Read on to find out
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The Road Less Travelled

I always liked the amazing The Road Not Taken.

The Road Less Travelled

I find myself identifying with the feeling of introspect and thoughts this poem conveys.

After a long time of walking the beaten track I am finally taking the other road.
More than 20 years ago, I started programming as a kid because I wanted to make computer games. Somehow, when it was time to start my “real world” career, I just took the first job that accepted me (which was the first job I applied for). My other career choice were no more inspired than my first one.
I never stopped learning and reading about programming but found it very hard to maintain personal projects while having a day job and a family.
Now, in a daring move, I left my job to pursue my heart’s desires. My wife and I calculated that we can carry on (we have 2 kids) for almost a year without income. So my plan for the next year is to explore all the interesting stuff that went on while I was hibernating in not so fun jobs.
This is what I want to do:

  1. Get involved in an interesting open source project
  2. Create a cool web site as a base for experimenting with web technologies. I am currently experimenting with Django
  3. Make games with all kinds of gaming technologies and platforms. I created a prototype with Corona SDK and I really liked working with it. Right now I am working on an IntelliJ IDEA plugin that will aid developing Corona projects in IDEA.
  4. Publish my  adventures in this blog

Hopefully, after one year I will be able to use my newly acquired skills to create a reasonable income.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.